Deborah Coleman's 1997 disc, I Can't Lose (Blind Pig), earned praise for its blend of youthful aggression and musical maturity--for the emotional complexity beneath the bad-girl strut. Since then Coleman's been touring almost nonstop, and from the sound of her current release, Where Blue Begins, all that traveling has seasoned her as a musician and performer. Her voice has toughened into a leathery purr, and on the roadhouse cruncher "Walk Your Walk," rather than attempt a red-hot-mama bellow, she slips into a slinky Mae West-like coquettishness. Though "Beside Myself" suffers from cliched lyrics, Coleman's newly adventurous guitar work saves the tune--with a wide vibrato and her trademark declamatory tone, she constructs a completely realized musical idea at each step of an ascending pattern without ever losing the solo's impetus. And her whip-cracking slide lines tear a swath through "Goodbye Misery," sometimes recalling Duane Allman at his ballsiest. Such diverse and well-honed artistry would be notable in a seasoned veteran; for a developing artist like Coleman it portends greatness. Saturday, 10 PM, Beale Street Blues Cafe, 1550 N. Rand, Palatine; 847-776-9850. Sunday, 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333. DAVID WHITEIS
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Pat Johnson.